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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Eidos Interactive
Ion Storm
GENRE: First Person Shooter
December 02, 2003
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Invisible War

More in this Series
 Written by Tim Stevens  on December 18, 2003

Full Review: A game with no sense of karma.

The first Deus Ex was a bit of an odd breed. It was a little bit FPS, a little bit open-ended RPG, suffering from a strong case of crummy AI, and was held together by a convoluted storyline that made the meandering plotlines of the X-Files look downright plain. Its open-ended nature would turn it into a great success, but it had many areas begging for improvement. What better way to address those issues than to make a sequel!

Deus Ex: Invisible War takes place a number of years after the original game. And, if you thought there was a confusing mess of conspiracies in the first game, wait until you play this one! The storyline of Invisible War is driven by the interactions of the two powerful entities: a mega-corporation called The Tarsus Corp. and a mysterious religious group simply called The Order. Tarsus recruits and, well, engineers a sort of elite security force. They starts with young, healthy recruits and, through rigorous training, bio-engineering, and the wonders of nano-technology, turns them into super-human killers well suited for the most difficult of duties. The Order, on the other hand, is a religious group that opposes the Tarsus way of doing things. They stress inner peace and unity, but the group itself is splintered into many factions. The head of the Order claims they are a non-violent group, but its members have performed some atrocious terrorist acts against Tarsus.

Your character (who can be male or female, though it makes zero difference in how the game plays out) starts out as a Tarsus recruit, but is quickly thrown into the world on his or her own and you're forced to make your own decisions about which team to play for. The problem is, through most of the game both groups appear to be equally shady and full of ulterior motives. So, where a game like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic gave you a choice between light and dark paths, this game gives you two decidedly gray paths to choose from. However, you're equally free to simply make your own meandering path between the two if you like.

This sort of ambiguous approach to right and wrong continues throughout the game. You'll continually face sticky situations with no "correct" response. For example, early on in the game you'll come across someone who is holding someone else's jet. The person holding it says the pilot did some bad things and owes her a fine. The pilot who owns the jet says that it was wrongfully taken from him, and also that he can't afford the fine. The Order says that the pilot is right and that you should get his jet back, and not only that, but eliminate the woman holding the jet and her entire security force. You can completely ignore the situation if you like, go pay the fine to the woman and have the jet released, or just go crazy and kill everyone, taking the jet by force. What's the "right" way to go? There isn't one. It all depends how you want to play the game.

This makes for a very free-flowing gameplay experience, much more so than KOTOR. But, for those of you who worked to collect every single light side point you could find in KOTOR, you may be frustrated by the lack of a light path here. There are many times where you'll have to put your real-world morals aside to succeed in this game. But, the open-ended nature of every situation means that there are many, many ways through this game and, of course, a number of different endings for you to check out.

Invisible War is improved in many respects from the first Deus Ex, but it still suffers some of its failings. For instance, while the game now sports a top-notch physics system that lets you toss and stack everything from wine glasses to dead bodies, the NPC characters in the game still stand idly by and let you steal everything from under their noses. You'll encounter people in the game who will have all their worldly possessions locked in a safe, and yet they'll do absolutely nothing if you pick the lock and clean it out while they watch. And, while the AI here is much improved over what we saw in the last installment, the game still suffers from an inability to maintain a stable frame-rate.

Graphically, things look decent, but not great, especially considering the frame rate. The story is partially told through a few FMV sequences that look very good. The real-time shadows of every object also look great, but one can't help noticing the complete lack of mirrors in the game, and how your character is the only one who doesn't cast a shadow. Rag-doll physics have been implemented, and they add a nice touch to the game visually. Many of the areas are large and impressively detailed, but in those large areas the noticeably lowered frame rates are a real frustration. And, long load-times between those areas only heighten that feeling.

On the audio front the game is littered with ambient sounds and conversations that help to sell the overall feel of the game. Weapons effects are good, and while the constant chatter you'll hear from NPC's and bots is well done, the acting of the main characters occasionally leaves a bit to be desired. Also, there's little if any music to speak of, except when you're standing next to a holo-projection of NG Resonance (the virtual pop-star of the future).

Bottom Line
It's difficult to give a firm overall rating to Deus Ex: Invisible War. The convoluted storyline and open-ended gameplay make for a very interesting and free-flowing game that you'll likely want to play through again if you enjoyed it the first time. But, the long load-times, poor frame rates, and no sense of right versus wrong may frustrate some. It's definitely worth playing for most folks out there, if only because it is so different. But, you may want to try before you buy.

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